BMI Explained: How does your BMI affect your health

BMI
3 min reading time

Is your BMI important? Yes. 

Before we get into why body mass index (BMI) is so important, let’s break down what it is:

Body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI is an inexpensive and easy screening method for weight category—underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obesity

Center For Disease Control

Simply put, BMI is a measure of how healthy your weight is. 

This estimation is calculated using only a person’s height and weight. Because of this, your BMI may not necessarily pose a health risk because it doesn’t diagnose your overall health. However, it tells you if your height has a healthy proportion with your weight. It screens the scale of your weight (healthy weight, underweight, overweight or obese), allowing you to make informed choices about your health. 

So why is BMI so important? 

Because it indicates if your body is ideally fit, or it can signal that your body may be reaching limits that will be harmful to you. People with BMI that is considered unhealthy are at a higher risk of certain diseases and medical conditions. 

Underweight people are prone to malnutrition, anaemia, and a weak immune system. On the other hand, people who are overweight or obese are prone to conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, sleep apnea, heart disease, and cancer. The worst-case scenarios for underweight and obese people are mental health problems and death. 

According to WHO (World Health Organization), 2.8 million people die worldwide from obesity, and the statistics for malnutrition are just as abysmal, with 462 million adults being underweight.  

With this knowledge, once you identify what part of the scale you fall into, all that’s left is to decide on a plan to get healthier. 

The biggest step in truly maintaining a healthy weight, adding healthy weight and dropping off unhealthy weight is first making a choice to do so. 

Once you have made this important choice, it is then easier to stick to a dedicated plan of action or get back on track when you fail. That action plan can be as small as exercising 5 minutes every day and drinking more water or following a meal plan and going to the gym. 

Keep in mind that the accuracy of BMI also varies with certain factors. BMI measures the variation in body shape and weight with body height. Because of this, certain people may be grouped as obese when they are not. 

For instance, athletes will usually be classed as obese even if they are not because muscle is denser than fat. Boxers, heavyweight lifters and other athletes have dense muscle and less fat, meaning that the calculation based solely on total weight will still place them in the overweight or obese region even though they are a healthy weight. Other variations to consider that affect the accuracy of BMI are pregnancy and racial group. 

BMI may not be perfect, but it’s a great starting point for anyone interested in maintaining their weight or looking to get healthier and shed unnecessary weight! 

Sources:

“About Adult BMI | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity.” CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html. Accessed 24 February 2022.
“Fact sheets – Malnutrition.” WHO | World Health Organization, 9 June 2021, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition. Accessed 24 February 2022.
“Obesity.” WHO | World Health Organization, 9 June 2021, https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/6-facts-on-obesity. Accessed 24 February 2022.

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